Coinciding with this year's exhibition is some exciting news about LeRoy.

Recently, we were informed that a major exhibition of Neiman's work will be hosted by the New-York Historical Society. The exhibition will open this winter and continue into the Spring of 2017. Details are still forthcoming, but the show will focus on one of LeRoy's dearest friends and most frequent subjects—boxing legend Muhammad Ali—and will occupy the museum's Civil Rights Gallery. The New-York Historical Society was Manhattan's first museum, and provides a dynamic and vibrant calendar of public programs focused on the city LeRoy called home for most of his career.

As some may recall from last year, LeRoy had a major painting depicting great American Jazz legends, Big Band (2004), permanently installed in the collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian Museum opened its annual LeRoy Neiman Jazz Appreciation Month at the beginning of April and the event featured the newly remodeled LeRoy Neiman Jazz Café and the Big Band (2004) installation, which are now the centerpiece at the museum entrance.

We are also gratified to include an introductory essay in this year's exhibition catalog by Elizabeth Fraterrigo, Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, and author of the book, Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America. Elizabeth is an expert in United States history of the 20th Century, with particular specialization in the means by which popular and material culture have influenced and shaped American society.

"From a twenty-first century perspective, Neiman's embrace by an appreciative audience offers a barometer of Americans' fascination with sport, spectacle, celebrity, and the good life over the second half of the last century, his rich body of work comprising a vital artifact of postwar American culture."

~Elizabeth Fraterrigo
Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago

This year we are pleased to present a collection of over 100 works from LeRoy's personal archives, along with a fine selection of paintings acquired over the past year. We extend our emphatic thanks once more to The LeRoy Neiman Foundation, whose continued collaboration is simply indispensible to making exhibitions like this one possible.


VIEW EXHIBITION CATALOG (click "Expand" to view)

Videos on Serigpraphs


Serigraphy perhaps had its roots in early Dutch poster stencils from the De Stijl movement. Then the silk screening process emerged and received wide acceptance for fine prints in the 1940s and 1950s. In this method, viscous silkscreen ink is forced through a nylon screen, depositing the ink on the paper. A separate screen is required for each color. The process of serigraphy is a more modern, mechanized version of traditional silk screening, allowing for faster runs of excellent color quality and sharpness of image.

"Up until that time [1969] I had tried etching and lithography, but found myself repeatedly turning to monoprints. When I finally took a crack at silkscreen, I discovered straight away that it was just right for my way of applying paint. The silkscreen process places no limitations on color possibilities, just as in painting. When doing silkscreens, I commence by laying on an abstract underpainting, establishing unresolved color temperatures, intensities and tones. Then, working into the disorganized paint, color by color, color over color, images slowly start taking shape. As the colors are laid down, a certain turbulence is retained which gives my serigraphs their special energy."

Neiman's serigraphs are organic extensions of his paintings. His earlier experiments with lithographs and monotypes in the 1950s and 1960s prepared him for the serigraphic technique that he began to use in 1970.

Neiman works very closely with the masterprinter and the chromist in the execution of these prints. Often, as many as 36 oil-based colors must be orchestrated into that symphony of tones that is the final work of art.

The Femlins are not only original drawings by Neiman, they are a great example of 20th-century Americana; they symbolize the Playboy aesthetic of the 1960s and 70s and are icons of popular culture. In the early 1950's, just before Playboy magazine was conceived, LeRoy Neiman and Hugh Hefner worked together at the Chicago department store Carson Pirie Scott.

When Hefner had the idea to start his men's magazine, he asked Neiman to do the original artwork, and the "Femlin" was born! Neiman envisioned her as being 12" tall, so in most of the illustrations she's in that scale. She's depicted as being mischievous, and as her name suggests, she's a female gremlin. Starting in 1957, every issue of Playboy had two black and white Femlins; she was usually on the jokes page behind the centerfold. Amazingly, Neiman contributed two Femlins drawings for every monthly issue, for 50 years.The illustrations were created as "camera-ready" line-art, to be photographed and then reduced for inclusion in Playboy Magazine.

These are fascinating, unique pieces of 20th-century art and culture and are available only through our galleries because of the 40-year long friendship between Franklin Bowles and LeRoy Neiman.